First up, the exterior.
The sixth-generation Explorer comes with a much-anticipated redesign, the first in 8 years.
The old grille is gone, as are the headlights and, frankly, the new bits give the Explorer a more imposing look. The hexagonal grille with its chromed mesh is the attention-grabber at the front although the narrower, Range Rover-esque headlights look good too with the grille wrapping around the inner edge of the lights on either side.
The beefy front end isn’t let down by the profile as it sports adequately big wheel arches with plastic outdoorsy add-ons. These wheel arches are filled by 18-inch rims that are standard on the base trim level and the XLT while the Limited and Platinum get 20-inch rims as standard. 21-inch aluminum ones are optional on the Platinum trim level only.
You’ll also notice that the Explorer’s B-pillar is still angled towards the front as it was before but it’s now narrower. From the imagery available, you could say that the rear window on the Explorer is narrower than on the Acadia but that’s debatable. The Explorer also seems to have broader side windows, although not by much.
At the back, Ford’s prized mid-size SUV has wraparound taillights that are smaller than those on the fifth-generation model as they extend less across the side of the vehicle. The trunk lid protrudes forward towards its upper half, while the area for the numberplate remains recessed.
Like on the Acadia, the Explorer too has light-colored panels at the bottom end of the rear bumper around the area where the exhaust tips exit.
Talking about the Acadia, GMC’s mid-size SUV offering is less of a looker when viewed from the front. The grille is standard GMC in design but the headlights and everything else give the Acadia a forgettable face. It’s not ugly by any means, but the new Explorer looks more like it means business.
The Acadia also has squared-off wheel arches that work with the car’s generally more boxier look. The Acadia looks even more rugged when you add to the equation the ’All-Terrain Package’. Either way, the plastic rocker panel covers on the Acadia are taller than those on the Explorer.
GMC's SUV wins, in my opinion, the fight over the best rear end.
Those elongated, horizontally-mounted, taillights which, when lit up, display a C-shaped beam, are just more elegant. I mean the problem with Ford’s taillights isn’t that they’re generic-looking, that’s to be expected in this day and age, but they seem a bit small compared to the size of the Explorer.
Size wise, the Explorer has a 7-inch longer wheelbase than the Acadia and, overall, it is 5.2 inches longer as well. It’s also 3.5 inches wider and about four inches taller. That translates into loads more interior space for people, as well as cargo space. The Explorer has an approach angle of 20.1 degrees (that grows to 21 degrees on the Platinum version) and a departure angle of 22 degrees that gains 0.3 degrees on the Platinum. The ramp breakover angle is between 17.1 and 17.7 degrees while the ground clearance itself is about 8 inches, 0.8 inches better than what the Acadia delivers. In fact, the Acadia falls short when it comes to the other sections too as it’s a more city-oriented crossover SUV compared to the Explorer that doesn’t mind going a bit off the tarmac.
Ford Explorer vs GMC Acadia Dimensions
|2020 Ford Explorer||2019 GMC Acadia|
|Width, excluding mirrors||78.9||75.4|
|Width, including mirrors||89.3||TBA|
|Width, mirrors folded||82.7||TBA|
|Track, front curb||66.9||64.5|
|Track, rear curb||66.9||64.5|
All those extra inches in exterior size are visible on the inside too.
Indeed, one of Ford's targets when conceiving the new Explorer was to offer extra room in the cabin and make it more practical than ever.
"The second row has more head and hip room. Space for the occupants seems to matter most,” said Bill Gubing, Global Chief Engineer of the Ford Explorer program, quoted by Detroit Free Press. It now also has square cupholders and the third-row seats fold as you’d expect with the second row being adjustable.
Standard features regardless of trim level include an electrically-operated trunk hatch, a 4G LTE WiFi hot spot that can host up to 10 devices, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A 10-inch screen is also available as an optional extra as well as a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. The most interesting feature on the new Explorer is the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite that’s helping you stay safe on the road at all times. The system includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, a blind spot information system, rear cross traffic alert, a rearview camera, plus reverse brake assist, and active park assist that parks your car without you having to do anything more than touch a button.
The Acadia also boasts most of the safety features available on the new Explorer, although most of them are only standard in higher-trim versions so don’t expect to find the fancy stuff on SL/SLE versions. As such, if you’re willing to pay up to $12,000 more (that’s the price of an SLT-2 Acadia over the MSRP of the base SL model), you could have the configurable Teen Driver system that blocks off some of the car’s features to encourage safe driving, as GMC puts it. Then there’s the Driver Alert Package II that includes lane change alert with side blind zone alert, low-speed forward automatic braking, front pedestrian braking, front and rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator, and forward collision alert.
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